(Left) A rendering of three tea candles on a granite countertop, after some Photoshop work to blur the background and

diffuse the candle glow. Big deal—but takes all day to render these precious fourteenhundred pixels because of cast glass refraction calculations. (Right) An actual digital photograph of three tea lights on my bathroom countertop clearly shows the radiant glare from a cheap lens and the refracted ring of light encircling the tea lights from each candle shining through the thick glass bases. We can’t directly do that with a LightWorks effect; we must add a specific light source to do it.

Candlelight and Crystal
This exercise studies light, refraction and modeling at the macro level in ArchiCAD —about as small as it can get and way more detail than you could ever use. Based on a typical “tea light, ” a squat candle nestled in a heavy glass base, this exercise builds a plausible flame model, lights the scene with plausible candlelight and addresses the importance of how the heavy refractive glass base interacts with light energy.

light behavior without benefit of the refractive refocusing of the candles by the glass (the bright rings surrounding each real light in the adjacent photograph). Study the related material settings to uncover the details of solving this situation. The Base The base was swept with Profiler, following the actual tea light profile (no guessing). Accurate measurements showed it was NOT flat on top, but sloped slightly down and outward. The only problem with Profiler is that a rotated profile has a matching start and end face seen in a transparent object as a visible plane traveling through the glass. Take care to hide this seam away from the camera by placing it directly behind the flame in line with the camera viewpoint—sneaky. Cast glass or lead crystal has a high refractive index, a highly polished surface and contains irregularities caused by thermal

The Situation

The delight of the tea light is basking in the bedazzling refraction of the weighty base as it cradles the candle and how this radiance glows in a modest space. Our challenge is to model this
142 LightWorks in ArchiCAD

Cast Glass Tea Light Base: The high refraction clear material is given subtle sophistication with a large transparent texture map for some enigmatic distortion like induced by shrinking during cooling after casting. (Left) Glass Refracted texture map.

creating a ring of light emulating the refracted ring in the photo. high ISO digital image made with a lousy camera lens. but reflects light energy (with the addition of some emission shader) from the light sources in such close proximity to it. RESOL controls the number of facets a swept object has through the swept path. The Light Sources Two light sources create the essential. You might choose otherwise. opaque core flame and its surrounding translucent plasma halo were created in two parts with Profiler sweeps. it is obvious that the rendering is so much sharper than a noisy. transparency and translucency. The Photoshop Tricks Comparing the rendering to the photo. I chose ninety degrees. For this exercise. even the finest magic wand setting produced a crude geometry that did not follow the tiny shape. in which case you’d also want to make a black and a white wick for “new” and “used.(Left) Spline to fill to profiled candleflame components. I elected to represent a flame from an overly long wick having an excessive plasma tail. The lousy lens. ” Perhaps consider also making the wax shrink parametrically as the candle wax is consumed by the flame…just a thought. Candle users often trim wicks to reduce flame size at this point in the burn cycle. Referring to the study in the lighting chapter. The Flame Model The intense. This variation uses a subtle texture map to disrupt the even passage of light through the object. however. It shines straight upward from the top surface of the candle wax. To emulate the flame glow required a tiny amount of Diffuse Glow Chapter Four: Tricks 143 . Qualities of transparency and translucency are closely related and in some cases a patterned texture map as a transparency mask can help bridge between refraction. The base model lacks imperfections and roughness that enhance material refraction. placing the light just over two inches above the top of the base. I skipped modeling the wick. which will be obscured later. if not complete. The adjacent illustration shows the light cone array over the glass base. brings a romantic radiant glow to the overexposed candle flames. simulating irregularities in the casting. (Right) Three tea lights and bases show light configuration for light and shadow casting. In profiling the flames using a fill. the only one of ArchiCAD’s lights than can actually be seen as a physical light source. curing. Relative to the tea candle photo where the wicks were new and the flames small. The supplemental light source is the merely versatile Light Cone Down shining directly downward from a strategic position hovering above the flame at a height sufficient to cast light over the edge of the base. the model flames are absurd. The flame assembly doesn’t actually glow. The basic light source is the supremely versatile Wall Light Indirect. Readers skilled in GDL should reduce Profiler RESOL to 5 from the default 32 to speed imaging of these two shapes. Outer is translucent and glowing inner is opaque and glowing. translucency is merely a specialized specular reflection shader. The Wick The Candle Nothing but wax. In LightWorks. Emulating the translucent reflection of wax requires a small amount of plain coverage transparency shader in addition to the translucent reflection shader. light effect required. the best shadow edge/angle falloff definition was found with an outer light cone set somewhere between ninety and one hundred and twenty degrees. but GDL enthusiasts may wish to make an ON/OFF option for their tea lights. Without too much forethought.

144 LightWorks in ArchiCAD . Uplighting creates the general radiant light and counter reflections. Emission Attentuation = 0 results in lack of modeling. (Below) The Candle Flame Plasma: Off-gassing vapor is not as hot as the core. (Above) The Candle flame Core: Designed to be a solid glowing undefined form—will be shrouded by transparent plasma described below. Note the high falloff designed to emulate candle light and short light stopping distance to prevent energy contribution to the overall scene. Extreme falloff and abrupt light stop. (Above) The UpLight: Wall Light Indirect creates the general radiant light and counter reflections.(Above) The Candle Light Array: Positioned for rhythmic light circle overlap. (Below) The DownLight: Light Cone Down. hence a darker color for the surrounding mantle. (Below) The Candle Wax Material: Translucent reflection combines with slight transparency for a waxy appearance. down lighting establishes the bright circle surround. just like a glowing object should.

The Render Time Before “After”: Rendering is too sharp—the eye is led away from the scene to the background context elements included in the composition to support scene plausibility. in the model or with a light effect. Intended to emulate a plastic laminate finish using a granite pattern photographed from stone. we rely on diffuse glow and distorted cast glass effects to carry the day. satisfying the eye without providing the complete.06 roughness achieves the ideal satin look. also conveys a sense of rough shadow cast from the outer lip of the glass bases… a very satisfying visual effect. diffuse glow makes it pretty and adding 2% noise completes the dark. Chapter Four: Tricks 145 . especially if it is an animation and the excess refraction and over-polygonated[!] surfaces are repeated in many frames. After “Before”: Photoshop tricks—graduated blur confirms subject. Errors like this can ruin a job.0 G5 ten hours to render these fourteen hundred pixels at top quality. lacking radiosity. Diffuse glow refers to the background color as set in Photoshop—it should be set to white. Batman!”] This is another example of how high refraction with only a few light sources can exponentially increase rendering time from what should have been just a few minutes. have another cookie while we wait. Only careful study of an object’s light behavior can reveal its imaging secret. My illustration strategy acknowledges distant context: vital to convincing the viewer he is operating in a real environment. an object or scene has subtle qualities. romantic effect. Often. Not at all obvious—it’s a trick! A second trick is graduated blurring applied from the upper right hand side of the image where the door leads to the bedroom. General Illustration Notes Study the countertop. not just a stage set. which can be caricatured. Using the adjacent material settings. blending the low-light scene like high speed camera photo sensors would. the typical solution for intensely lit scenes. and a hint as to what could be left out.filter applied in Photoshop. [“Holy CPU cycles. Here. particularly the foreground reflection. sixty-four segments instead of eighteen (which might have been enough) and too many polygons and high refraction combine into a time sponge. Further fallout from having ridiculously high standards. Here. excruciating truth. the glass base is also overresolved. Article Conclusion Satisfying illustrations rely on close attention to remembered impression rather than literal detail accuracy. (Left) Granite texture map from a photo. dappled surface Counter Top Material: In building a scene with candlelight. The main rendering with three candles took my 2 x 2. the precise reflectivity of adjacent surfaces provide theatrical support for the romance of the light—minimal mirror with . the diffuse. The third trick is to induce some grain (noise) into the image.